I worry about schools and education within. Not because of facilities because the government bit seems has countless millions to our into buildings and physical facilities – anything to keep the Territory building and construction industry happy. I’m not worried the level, degree and scope of narrowly focussed student testing through NAPLAN, PISA and a host off other accountability and measurement devices. Similarly, there is time aplenty for teachers and school leaders to go through the system imposed torture of performance measurement, personal development, endless meetings and other activities that used to be considered peripheral to the central focus of schools – MEANINGFUL teaching and learning.
My worry is that while teachers, school leaders and indeed the system dither around with justificational stuff, education is going south and with it the attitude and commitment of students. Behaviour and discipline have become huge issues, almost insurmountable in some schools. Teachers are frustrated, stressed and increasingly disaffected with teaching because they cannot manage student behaviours. Increasingly, students are demotivated and disengaged.
It has become common for students in both government and private schools (some, not all) to switch off learning and turn on their for social messaging, facebook engagement, games and other diversions during teaching time. The respect students have for teachers, school leaders, even each other has diminished and continues to degrade. Lackadaisical attitudes are manifest by both secondary and primary school students.
In some respects this is small wonder because of the school focus as raised in paragraph one. The growing truth is that education, too often is meaningless in terms of the way it is seen as relevant. Some students worry about relevance, others simply switch off or don’t care. And I wonder if students are still regarded as people (this used to be the case). Too often I feel, they are seen more as a means to the end – of justifying schools and staff on paper and therefore being a part of satisfying school and staff accountability requirements.
If that is the case, it’s devaluing students and debasing education as a whole.